It’s Going to Happen: The Start of My VCDX Journey

by knudt Wednesday, February 18, 2015 12:58 PM
I’ve been looking at doing this for some time (earliest thing I could find was a bookmark from November 2010), but the stars are finally aligning to make it happen.  This is my official public declaration that I intend to defend for my VCDX in October 2015.  Of course, this declaration isn’t for you as much as it is for me, but I will most definitely appreciate any support I can get this year.
The title is a bit disingenuous as my journey to VCDX started in early 2006 when I achieved my first VCP certification (back in the 2.5 days).  Since then, I’ve achieved every VCP and VCAP in the core Data Virtualization product.  Needless to say, I’ve been prepared to do this for awhile.
One of the hold ups thus far has been a distinct lack of personal time and a desire to not take anymore away from my family.  While life is anything but simpler now, SimpliVity has been generous enough to agree to dedicating a not-insignificant amount of work hours to help me in this pursuit.  I couldn’t be happier!
If anyone else is planning on defending this year, please let me know.  I think study groups and peer reviews to be a very important part of the modern day VCDX journey.  I also intend to lean on some of my former coworkers and customers.  Maybe even my non-IT family members so I can get that most basic of architect questions: “Why.”  All perspectives will be valuable in this journey (as with most other journeys).
Today starts the beginning of the FINAL LEG of my VCDX Journey.  

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Reflections on VMworld #12

by knudt Sunday, August 31, 2014 3:24 PM

As I spend the weekend after VMworld reconnecting with the family I haven’t seen in a full week, I can’t help but occasionally think about the week away and the community I’ve immersed myself in.  I think it’s fair to say that this community is as strong as it has ever been. Most of us started off as customers and I’ve watched many move the needle on their careers considerably. This has resulted in heavy dispersal into the manufacturer space, and not all of us into the same company. But this hasn’t harmed relationships in the least. Oddly, as we’ve all dispersed into different competing companies, I’d say that I see less concerns with conflicts of interest in community events then ever before.

I’ve also witnessed the willingness community members have to step up for one another. When a series of bad events happened to Shane Williford (@coolsport00) on his way home from VMworld, a small posse of community members in KC jumped at the opportunity to help him clear out a tree that fell on his house. This was less than a day after we all got home from VMworld!

Then there are those of us who throw community events around VMworld. Some vendors do it to grab attention (and yes, usually leads), but some of the independent events (vBeers, VMunderground, vBreakfast, v0dgeball, Spousetivities, etc.) do it simply to gather us together. Speaking for myself, it brings me no lack of joy to see everyone having a great time together. It's as simple as that. The work to get it done is stressful and weighty at times, but those three hours at VMunderground always set VMworld off on the right note for me.  The introduction of Opening Acts was a huge gamble on the part of VMunderground and vBrownBag, but it will now become a regular thing at VMworld (I was actually told we can’t avoid it at this point).

It is a humbling experience for me, spending the rest of the week hearing how amazing everyone thought it was and how they look forward to the event every year.  The feedback and advice is always welcome so we can improve, especially for Opening Acts as we try to mature that concept.

I had no point to this posting, other than to put into words the gratitude and awe at what we all can accomplish for one another.  But as I wrap this up, I have discovered a point I would like to make. People are always shifting and new concepts are constantly evolving. Both provide opportunity. Take advantage of these opportunities to both support and make your name in our community.  Theron Conrey originally started VMunderground and involved me in the planning a few years later. Due to a job change he made in the last year, he was unable to attend VMworld, and left the event in my and Jim Millard’s hands. Josh Atwell has announced that he will be stepping back from all the activities he’s been involved with, leaving a leadership hole in several community activities. Matt Vogt and Jim Millard chose to go to the VMworld concert instead of organizing the UnParty. All are places that happened just this year to step up and give back to the community.

Opening Acts and Virtual Design Master are two examples of community events that never existed before 2 years ago. They resulted from people getting together and simply saying “what if we did this?" Now they are real things that get people together to grow both their personal relationships and their technical knowledge. Both were crazy ideas, but after taking the risk of utter failure, turned into amazing things.

Finally to my point.  Take the chance. Risks are usually rewarded in this community of ours. Even if the event or idea never takes off, people will notice and appreciate the effort. If you can’t get over the nervousness of the idea, pull in someone with some experience in the community to bounce ideas off of or help you along the way.  Get involved in an existing event or group. Contribute where you can. Assist when you can. Do it for others, knowing it can’t hurt your career in the end.

By the way, yes, this has been my 12th VMworld (11 in the US and 1 in Europe).  I have been with this community since the very opening of the VMTN forums (at VMworld 2004) and I personally wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for this community.  For that I say to each and everyone of you: 


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Trends | Virtualization

Making the Leap to SimpliVity

by knudt Friday, July 25, 2014 1:07 AM

My latest story starts with a simple DM to Matt Vogt about a month and a half ago, who at that time had recently moved over to SimpliVity:


This message came from two movements in my life:

  1. Lamenting the good old days of Vital Support Systems when the company had less than 100 people and more of a startup feel. There were all-company Christmas parties, no politics and a “whatever it takes” attitude.  The acquisition by a Fortune 500 company and formation of the 650+ employee OneNeck obviously changed that.
  2. Getting really interested in SimpliVity’s technology offering.  I started investigating the hyper-converged market at VMworld 2013 and became very intrigued with the possibilities. Since then, I’ve found lots of customers that fit the concept perfectly, particularly the backup and replication features built into the OmniCube architecture.

That one message led to a series of phone conversations that never really felt like interviews. In fact, one of them started with "I'll be honest with you, it's my job to convince you to come work for us."  Those phone conversations led to a job description titled Technical Marketing Manager and an offer letter. And believe me, those dominoes fell FAST.

The job description was based around three things that excite me immensely: 

  • Technical writing (blogs, whitepapers, reference architectures, videos, pre-sales enablement, etc.)
  • Remote/online demos of the product to support pre-sales activities
  • Community building and social media activities (including attending VMUGs)

Along the way, I honestly tried to find the dark clouds inside of all the silver lining, but then items like this would pop-up (which is a pretty big deal for such a young company):



And then this came out:



As I realized how serious this series of events was becoming, I confided in a few people I trusted locally and in the industry and received nothing but positive feedback, both about the company and how well I'd do in the role.  It was almost universally a message of "that company has been looking for you for quite awhile."

How could I say no?  

Two weeks ago, I gave my current employer (OneNeck IT Solutions) notice that I had accepted a job with SimpliVity.  Internal reactions (the internal announcement email is a story all its own, but I'll a save that for a bar story at VMworld) ranged from "NOOOOOO!!!!!" to "Who is this Brian Knudtson guy? We need to apply the 'Blood in, Blood out' rule!" (yes, that was a joke) Overall, it has been overwhelmingly positive.  When you're offered such a perfectly fitted job, people definitely get it.  I've been blessed to have spent the last 6 years with people who can see that and be happy for me.  The positivity I've gotten from them has made the last two weeks much easier than I expected.  

I think it goes without saying that this was a very difficult decision.  The team at Vital Support Systems (and now OneNeck) have become family over the last 6 years, moving away from family is always hard.  I have to give up the many non-manufacturer partner benefits, the biggest of which is being a member of VMware's Partner Technical Advisory Board.  Since Simplivity more or less competes with just about every other hardware manufacturer out there, it means having to step away from so many business (but hopefully not personal) relationships I've built up over the years: HP, EMC and Cisco being at the top of that list.  Writing for TechTarget is also going to have to end.

In the end, I think the scales were clearly in favor of this next step.  I'm super excited about this opportunity and I think the company is going to be phenomenal.  I want to be a part of their success and hopefully have a direct impact on it.

So what happens now?  On Sunday I jump on a plane to Boston to jump directly into the fray: 3 days of global sales kick-off and HR on-boarding, followed by a day at the Indy VMUG.  Then I expect to be neck deep in VMworld planning along with all the other craziness that happens the first month with a new company.  I will be based out of my house, so the Omaha area will still be considered home.


I've experienced VMworld as a customer and as a VAR.  This will be my first time as a manufacturer/sponsor of VMworld.  *gasp* BOOTH DUTY!

Wish me luck!


VCAP-DTD Experience

by knudt Tuesday, April 16, 2013 10:42 PM
Way back when 2013 was still shiny and new (January 3 to be specific) I was lucky enough to take the beta version of the new VCAP-DTD exam.  Now that the exam has gone production, I figured I'd share my experience taking the exam with all of you.

The VCAP-DTD is the desktop (read: VMware View + ThinApp) version of the VCAP-DCD.  It's all about proving your ability to design a View environment.  Prerequisites for the VCAP-DTD are to have either a VCP5-DV or a VCP5-DT (which of course requires a VCP5-DV).

The structure of the exam is similar to the VCAP5-DCD and included mostly multiple choice questions.  There was also a smaller percentage of questions that required matching items from one column with items in a second column (e.g. match the business requirements in column A with the appropriate feature in column B).  There were also a small number of diagram questions that provided a Visio like interface where you are asked to create a physical or logical design based on a stated scenario and design requirements.

The content of the exam covered pretty much all the features of View and ThinApp.  There was also a very fair amount of questions based on designing a vSphere infrastructure, which makes sense since a good View implementation can only exist on a well designed vSphere implementation.  I felt that some of the questions were a little too administrative focused for an advanced design exam, especially for a certification that has an administrative certification requirement.  

I don't want to get too detailed in the topics covered, but you'll want to know all aspects from Connection Server best practices to Transfer Server requirements and from storage design best practices to application deployment options.  After all, View infrastructures are complicated and require many different components.  Keep in mind that virtual desktops sometimes have very different requirements of these components than virtual servers or physical desktops do, which can result in very different designs. (hint: there was proper emphasis on the most critical components that can sink a View infrastructure if not designed properly)

I did think some of the questions were a little too dependent on memorization of configuration items (e.g. min/max configurations).  As someone who has been designing View environments for over 4 years, I would never rely on my memory for maximum configuration items and would always have those documents close at hand.  If we want our certifications to match real world skillsets, then these documents should be available during the exam.

What did I use to study?  I started with the blueprint (which may have changed from the beta to the production exam) and essentially read through all the documents listed in there.  There were questions I can directly attribute to reading this documents, but many of the skills needed for these design exams come from experience, not studying. 

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Partner Exchange 2013

by knudt Thursday, March 7, 2013 10:43 AM
I managed to weasel my way into another awesome VMware Partner Exchange conference.  This year, HP provided myself, along with another four social media darlings, an all expenses paid trip.  Thanks HP!

This year PEX seemed a bit more tame than previous years.  VMware has done a great job describing their three pronged vision (End User Computing, Software-Defined Data Center and Hybrid Cloud) publicly, so there wasn't a lot to add directly to the partner community other than to reinforce the vision and discuss some strategies.  And serve Kool-Aid.  You know I love the Kool-Aid. Much of the Kool-Aid is "inside baseball" stuff, as John Mark Troyer likes to describe it, so I won't bore you with all those details.

In my opinion, the most important announcement for the general public is a big change to the partner accreditation program.  While partner organizations have had the ability to differentiate themselves by attaining accreditations in specific disciplines like desktop virtualization, business continuity and business critical applications, until now there was no way for individuals in the organization to differentiate themselves.  There are two programs for sales and presales engineers respectively: VMware Sales Professional (VSP) and VMware Technical Solutions Professional (VTSP).  Both programs allow individuals within partner organizations earn the designation in specific disciplines (desktop virtualization, business continuity, business critical applications, etc).  This is not a certification exam, so the VTSP is not equivalent to the VCP or VCAP, but the new program VMware is rolling out will make the VTSP accreditation much more technical than it was previously.  This is an important program for the general public to understand because it can be used to identify individuals that have different competencies and/or focuses. 

I didn't make it to any session, except the HP Boot Camp.  Much to my disappointment, I didn't make any labs either (guess I'll have to push myself a bit harder to start participating in the Project Nee beta).  I ended up being pretty busy with various impromptu conversations, meetings and hanging out in the Solutions Exchange.  For those of you familiar with the VMworld Solutions Exchange, the PEX version would look like a mini version of the VMworld one: much smaller set of presenters, with smaller booths and far less swag/gimmicks. 

A couple of the conversations revealed to me some futures that I think I can take advantage of.  Unfortunately can't talk about any further than those. :)

I was also given a very healthy push by a few of the VCDXs to start the final steps of my own journey to the VCDX.  I have not officially made that decision yet, but I'm closer to pulling that trigger than I ever have been.

Ultimately, the week ended with the highlight of the trip.  Thanks to an introduction in the bar Wednesday night by Andre Leibovici, I was able to have a very awesome chat with Mark Benson, the original creator of what has evolved into VMware Horizon View.  Hoping I made a good impression!

I had originally turned down Partner Exchange this year in order to attend a different conference, until HP offered me the opportunity.  After this week, I don't think I could say no to Partner Exchange next year.  Especially since it won't be in Vegas.

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HP at VMware Partner Exchange

by knudt Wednesday, March 6, 2013 12:25 PM
HP provided myself, along with another four social media darlings, an all expenses paid trip to VMware's Partner Exchange conference (more coming on that).  As part of the trip, I attended the HP Boot Camp this year.  Given the fact that there wasn't an NDA required and the fact that I work for an HP Elite partner, the content wasn't anything new for me, but it was interesting to see it all together in one long blast.  Would've been even more interesting if we could have had a private boot camp where we could dig in deeper to the details.

Having worked with HP my entire career, the last five in a sales/implementation capacity, I have always been happy with the ProLiant line (even back into the Compaq days).  The network products are obviously a growing business for HP, and one they are doing pretty well with.  Storage...well...they've had their ups and downs, but I think they're on an up right now.  The HP 3PAR StoreServ 7000 is a very competitive product line and I'm excited as a partner to use it in my solutions.

All three divisions have their own issues, but the converged infrastructure team's mission is to bring them together to create unique and useful solutions.  A very interesting market right now and I really do think HP is well positioned with the proper understanding of the individual components and a good vision to put it all together.  Where HP has honestly been lacking lately is the ability to execute, both quickly and definitively.  It's a rapid market out there and that vision has to translate into quick product development that is solid from the beginning and solves true business needs.

The cool part about the sponsored trip was a one hour (could've gone for two hours) private meeting with HP, VMware and the five bloggers that HP sponsored.  We had a very frank conversation about how HP can better engage the social media community.  Another great vision for HP's future.  Hopefully they can execute on it and start to build a community as strong as the one VMware has been able to build.

A great trip. One that I am honored to have been invited into.

Big thanks to the HP/VMware alliance teams, the HP converged infrastructure team and Calvin Zito for providing me this opportunity.

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2012: A Year in Review

by knudt Monday, February 4, 2013 10:29 PM
I'm not normally one to do New Year's resolutions or "the year in review" type posts, but I felt my silence out here deserved some level of recognition...or explanation...or it what you like.  So, if anyone is still listening here on my little lily pad in the great big Internet, here it is, my year in review.

After 3.5 years providing post-sales implementation services as a Systems Engineer, I was given the opportunity to move into a dedicated pre-sales role within my company as a Solutions Architect.  When I first started, I was lucky enough to participate fairly equally in both pre- and post-sales, often time seeing a project through from the very first meeting to the final roll-out.  I love this approach.  Unfortunately, as the years rolled on, there was more and more post-sales time and less and less pre-sales time.  When the company decided to form dedicated pre- and post-sales engineering positions, I was faced with the choice between the two, and I decided to go pre-sales.  I had no idea how much different it was to be dedicated to the role, rather than something I did between projects.

I spent a lot of 2012 trying to truly embrace this new role and wrap my brain around how sales really works.  The process took awhile due to a lot of distractions, however.  There were still projects I had to finish up that were already on my schedule and products that I had to cross train others how to do.

Just when I thought I had cleared up all the project work, we inked a deal with a new customer to provide and implement the infrastructure underlying a vCloud Director based public cloud.  I ended up being the primary systems/storage resource acting as both architect and a coordination point for the actual implementation (along with a lot of hands on and cross training).  An interesting twist happened half way through the project when this new customer of ours ended up purchasing my company, turning us into a wholly-owned subsidiary and making the public cloud we were building something we would have to sell.  It was an awesome project to be involved on and provided me a lot of insight and visibility within our new larger family.  I wouldn't have traded the experience for anything, but it did affect my ability to concentrate on learning to be a Solutions Architect.

In addition to all that, I was lucky enough to be able to attend four different conferences in 2012 (VMware Partner Exchange, HP Discover, VMworld US and VMworld Europe), participated in two in-person meetings of the VMware Partner Technical Advisory Board (PTAB), and attended two HP Tech Days (storage and Gen 8).  Being able to attend so many conferences was an awesome experience, but all these events meant additional weeks out of the office.  Many of these events were not sponsored or directly related to my job, so I am truly blessed to have an employer so willing to allow me to attend such events.  Some have questioned why I stick with a small VAR in the middle of the country when I could be working at EMC or VMware.  This is one of the reasons.

Of course, VMworld US included a little side event we like to call VMunderground.  In previous years, I've tended to hang out in the background and let my co-conspirators (and very good friends) Theron Conrey and Sean Clark lead the charge while I help out when and where they needed me.  This year, I took a more active role.  While it didn't affect my day job, it did distract me from extra curricular activities, such as this blog.

There were also many other smaller items I accomplished during the year:
- Supported several user group activities, including a big VMUG event in Omaha, the Midwest Regional VMUG in KC and the Omaha UCS user group
- Racked up 14 articles on
- Participated or presented at many company sponsored customer marketing events (e.g. lunch & learns)

Towards the end of this year, I picked up coaching duties for my daughter's Destination Imagination team.  It's an awesome program, and if you're not familiar with it, I'd encourage you to check it out here.  It's a huge time commitment, and has and will keep me distracted during the off hours as well.

Overall, a very busy year.  Hopefully that helps you understand why I've been so quiet this year on my blog (and to some extent on Twitter).

As awesome (and busy) as 2012 was, I'm definitely looking forward to 2013.  Working for a company that can deliver both on-premise product and services, as well as traditional managed services and cloud-based services opens a ton of doors and a solution set that will be hard to beat.  We're already running towards new product offerings that customers are asking for.

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PTAB Appreciation Gift

by knudt Wednesday, December 5, 2012 11:45 AM


HP Storage Tech Day

by knudt Saturday, February 11, 2012 9:20 PM

I was recently (two weeks ago) lucky enough to be invited to attend an HP Storage Tech Day.  It was a great opportunity to learn some great tech and network with some great people. I had every intention of getting this post out earlier (honestly!), but the day job and other engagements have kept me beyond busy.  At least I got it out before PEX!

Full disclosures: I work for a VAR where we sell and implement both HP and EMC storage solutions.  I should also mention that this was an all-expenses paid even.  Oh, and we got a really cool jacket with our twitter handle on the back (which should make me more identifiable at PEX).

The first day started off with an introduction by each of the attendees.  After that, Craig Nunes got up to give us what was supposed to be the only Marketing part of the day.  He shared with us some charts that showed the explosive growth HP has seen in the last year, especially around the 3PAR and backup appliance product lines.  He also introduced the HP Storage product line:

  • P10000 (3PAR) - Utility platform for ITaaS and Cloud
  • P4000 (LeftHand) - Scale out and virtualization
  • X#000 (IBRIX) - Scale out NAS and big data
  • B#000 (StoreOnce) - Deduplication and disk-based backup


Brad Katz then gave us an overview of the P4000 line, concentrating on the following:

  • VSA - a fully functional virtual appliance version of the SAN/IQ operating system that runs on the P4000 appliances.  It can even be brought into a normal P4000 cluster and clustered across hosts.  It's far more feature rich and scalable than VMware's vSphere Storage Appliance.
  • Metrocluster - this is the capability to geographically separate nodes within a P4000 cluster to create an active-active array across multiple sites.  A very cool technology.  I have customers that run this capability in their Production environments, and it works great.
  • P4800 - by far the coolest technology in the P4000 family.  This solution consists of two BL460 blades that run the VSA and are SAS connected to an MDS disk shelf.  The disk shelf is divided into two drawers (one for each blade) that pull out and contain up to 70TB raw hot swappable drives.  An extremely dense storage device that utilizes the entire depth of the rack instead of just the front panel.  Check this one in person if you ever get the chance.

There is also a cool new deployment tool we were able to play with to deploy the VSA very simply and quickly.  They call it "zero to VSA".

Being an iSCSI-only array, some quickly dismiss this product line for enterprise storage, but I have many happy customers running P4000 storage.  Plus I know some NDA futures of this product line, and there are a lot of cool things to come this year.  Some of which should definitely change this perception.


Next, Steve Johnson gave us a briefing of the StoreOnce products, concentrating on the top of the line B6200.  Interesting factoid: HP's first backup customer was IBM, who OEM'd HP tapes in the 80's.

The B6200 is a combination of DL380s and P2000 hardware and StoreOnce and IBRIX software.  It can provide both NAS and FC connectivity.  It also provides deduplication using the StoreOnce engine, which is utilized across all the HP products offering deduplication, a 4k block size and sparse indexing.  It can scale out to 512TB usable storage and max throughput of 28TB/hr.

Architecturally, it looks a lot like a general purpose SAN and contains all the redundancy you'd expect (including utilizing RAID6 - 4+2).  One major downside: replication is an add-on license.  I find this a major gap since this array has a strong story as a destination target for multiple StoreOnce devices in multiple locations.


James "JR" Richardson provided us the 3PAR presentation.  What a great speaker.  Very engaging, new his stuff well (he was one of the first 3PAR employees) and passion to spare.  I have every intention of getting him to Omaha someday soon for a lunch and learn and/or a series of customer meetings.

He spent most of the time laying out the three main differentiators of the 3PAR line: Multi-tenant, Efficient & Autonomic

  • Multi-tenant
    For a 3PAR array "multi-tenant" is more than having multiple customers in a single array.  It's really about handling multiple workloads in a single array, which is obviously very important in an Infrastructure as a Service model.  Virtual Domains do allow for different subgroups for the creation of storage by different organizations sharing a single array.

    The magic in a 3PAR array is in a custom ASIC that handles all the data movement within the array.  The controller processor handles all the control and data processing, allowing the ASIC to be built for a single purpose. Each ASIC is also direct connected (at 2Gbps) to the ASICs on the other controllers, allowing data movement to be striped across multiple controllers.  The ASIC is also built to handle the RAID5 XOR processing, virtually eliminating the write penalty when using RAID5.

  • Efficient
    3PAR arrays utilize a 16k block size, far smaller than most arrays, and a 1GB chunklet, allowing for a finer grained autotiering algorithm.  When thin provisioning, there is now preallocation, so the data written is truly the only data allocated to the LUN. Snapshots are handled with a redirect on write methodology, which they claim will allow 100s of snapshots on a single LUN.

  • Autonomic
    Adaptive Optimization (AO) is their autotiering engine.  HP has found that 90% of IOPS is in 10% of the capacity, which is why autotiering is such a hot topic in storage arrays lately.  The most common disk grouping 3PAR arrays contain are RAID5 SSD, RAID1 FC, and RAID6 near-line SAS.  I've heard from several 3PAR engineers that they recommend not initially installing SSD since most RAID1 FC disks can handle most customer workloads. Within AO, an administrator can define which tier a write is initially placed in.  Policies can then autotier the block up or down.

    Dynamic Optimization (DO) allows for the changing of an entire LUN or disk group to a new tier.  This is often used to migrate a LUN from RAID1 to RAID5.

Since I have customers who are debating between HP EVA and 3PAR arrays, I asked JR to comment on when one would make sense over the other.  He stated, with very little hesitation, that he wouldn't buy an EVA at this point.  Granted, he did come to HP with the 3PAR acquisition, but I've never heard any HP employee admit the defeat of the EVA so directly, especially in such a public setting.  He backed his statement up with the fact that almost all HP Storage R&D is being funneled to the P10000, P4000 and StoreOnce products.

We were then able to work through a 3PAR lab.  While the 3PAR interface wasn't convoluted or difficult to navigate, they could take some lessons in simplicity from the P4000 and EVA management interfaces.

Lab Tour

We were then taken on a tour of the HP Storage team's lab environment, including seeing all the products we discussed earlier in the day and the power/cooling elements of the data center.  Some very cool stuff in there, which you can see in the following pictures.

File Storage

We finished up the presentations for the day with the X-series of products, the provide file-based storage on the IBRIX platform.

Jim Hankins, product manager for IBRIX, and Chris Duffy, product manager for file storage, kicked off the presentation with an overview of the product line.  This includes the X1000 (integrated), X3000 (gateway), and X5000 (integrated), all of which are Windows Storage Server based and include file and block storage, deduplication, snapshots, and file classification

Mark Tomas, IBRIX development manager, then covered the X9000, which is designed for archiving and massive scale out.  The top of the line is the X9720, which can contain up to 1.2PB using 2TB MDL-SAS disks.  A few of the features include:

  • Uses MDS shelves and blades (similar to P4800)    
  • Single namespace across all models allowing tiering    
  • A single X9000 namespace can grow up to 16PB    
  • Tiering is based on metadata    
  • Continuous remote replication is available to a node in the same cluster or another cluster

Robert Thompson, an Architect for Windows NAS Engineering, presented the X5000, a converged network storage server.  This is very cool technology and is the best example of converged infrastructure I've ever seen.  Imagine a 2U device that contains a couple of BL460s and a small drawer of disks containing 16LFF disks.  The blades run a Windows Storage Server cluster and direct attach to the disks in the drawer.  Up to 4 HP D2000 disk shelves can be direct attached to the device allowing for a maximum of 128TB with 116 disks (16LFF + 100SFF).  The possibilities for this hardware platform are very interesting (an E5000 Exchange appliance has already been released) and HP is currently listening very closely to customer feedback, so let them know your thoughts (think branch office vSphere cluster).

The second day started with a VMware integration presentation by fellow vExpert Eric Siebert and Aboubacar Diare (another guy I'd like to get to Omaha for some presentations).  Currently, the only gaps in VMware integration within the current HP Storage portfolio are VAAI in the P6000 (in QA right now), VASA on the P2000, and SRM 4.1 & 5.0 support for P2000.  If you want to use VASA with your HP storage, it requires the Insight Control Storage module or 3PAR Management Plug-in, which both act as the VASA provider.  They will then provide vCenter the array type, LUN type, snapshot information, whether the LUN is thin provisioned, CA relationship, and replication state.

They discussed how, due to Zero detect and Write Same features in the 3PAR, Eager Zero Thick (EZT) VMDKs on a 3PAR LUN can actually be faster to create (definitely not slower) than Lazy Zero Thick (LZT) VMDKs.  Of course, EZT VMDKs will provide better performance on writes to the VMDK once created.  For XCOPY & Write Same operations, the 3PAR, EVA, P9500 platforms all have abilities to throttle VAAI operations so as to not harm front end IO.


We finished up the presentations with Mike Koponen who presented the BladeSystem product line, which are designed for a quick and easy implementation of the hardware for a vSphere, XenServer or Hyper-V environment.  The line includes the following:

  • VS1 - Modular scalability, built on DL360s and P4500 and supporting VMware or Microsoft.  Both the servers & P4500 start at 2 nodes, and both can scale out to 8 nodes each.  The vCenter server and the P4000 Centralized Management Console are both virtualized on their own DL360.    
  • VS2 - Density & flexibility, built on BL460s and P4800 and supporting VMware or Microsoft.  It starts with 6 blades, but can scale to 12.  The P4800 can contain one node (42TB) or two nodes (84TB).  It is also upgradable to CloudSystem.
  • CV2 - Similar architecture to the VS2, but offering both SAN & DAS versions, is designed specifically for client virtualization, and supports VMware or Citrix environments.
  • VS3 - Scale & performance, built on BL460s and 3PAR and only supports VMware.  It starts out with 16 blades and is scalable to 64.  The storage is built with a F-series 3PAR and starts at 38.4TB and can be grown to 162.2TB.  It is also upgradable to CloudSystem.

All four models include base and extended SKUs.

Overall, a great experience.  I learned a bunch, and hopefully this post will help you out as well.

A big thank you to HP for putting this together and inviting me to join!

For additional coverage of the conference, check out Calvin Zito's blog for his posts and links to the other attendee's posts.

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Accessing a PCoIP Session From vSphere Console

by knudt Thursday, December 29, 2011 4:19 PM
I just discovered an unadvertised new feature with View 5, that I felt was worthy of taking some time to break my four month drought of blog posts. (Yeah, before VMWorld. What can I say, I've been busy).  What shocked me is that this is a feature that my customers almost always ask about.  The feature is the ability to shadow a View user in a PCoIP session.  There are several tools that can do this (VNC and the like), but they're all third-party options that may or may not have a cost or additional infrastructure associated with them.  It only makes sense that View should have this option since they've got the protocol built deep into the product, not to mention a remote console to the actual display adapter in the form of the vSphere Client.  

Apparently there was a registry hack that existed for View 4, but now it's an offical option in the PCoIP ADM template (though not as integrated as it should be).

The option is "Enable access to a PCoIP session from a vSphere console" and is (barely) documented here in the View 5.0 Documentation.

Before configuring the GPO and applying to the vDesktop OU, here's what the View console and the vSphere remote console looked like:

After enabling the GPO and doing a gpupdate /force, here's what they look like:

Both show the exact same movements, and both accept input.

Now, if only VMware & Terradici put some programmer hours around securing and integrating this into the View Administrator...

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